Although its unlikley to make any difference here in Dallas, Thursday's big story for many media members concerned the reinstatement of Adrian Peterson. So, I'll start with that, largely in order to dismiss it quickly.
NFL to reinstate Adrian Peterson, opening door for speculation of a trade to the Cowboys - DMN Staff
The NFL has reinstated Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, clearing the way for him to return after missing most of last season. Just in time for rampant draft-time speculation.
Let's see..based on conjecture rather than knowledge. Yep, that's about right...
Nevertheless, The Mothership treats its readers to a pair of position papers addressing whether or not the Cowboys should go after Peterson:
Point: Reinstated Peterson Would Make Cowboys Serious Contenders - Rob Phillips, The Mothership
The debate begins with Phillips, who makes the familiar case:
Now’s the time to maximize the remainder of Romo’s prime. Turning 35 next week, he’s confident he’ll play several more years at a high level. But in his line of work, there’s always a chance his surgically-repaired back flares up again. Mine doesgetting out of bed, and I haven’t made a 10-year living dodging 300-pound linemen.
Counterpoint: Dealing For Peterson Wouldn’t Be A Responsible Decision - David Helman, The Mothership
Tiny Jim's counterpoint follows an interesting line of thinking:
I have every confidence that Peterson would have a phenomenal season running behind this offensive line. I have no confidence at all that he’d be the difference between a sixth Super Bowl championship or not.
Murray tallied 2,261 yards from scrimmage for the Cowboys last year, and they still fell two wins short of even playing in the Super Bowl – let alone winning it. How much exactly can Peterson improve on that?
On to our daily dose of prospect profiles
Cowboys' draft breakdown: RB Jay Ajayi - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer's prospect reviews continue with a look at the running back many insiders say is the Cowboys first choice to replace DeMarco Murray. Archer isn't completely sold:
Biggest concern: Can he trust the scheme? I had more questions about him than any of the backs I’ve viewed so far in Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman. He likes to bounce everything and rely on his speed and that’s not going to work as much at the NFL level. While I liked what he did as a pass catcher, he needs a lot of work as a pass protector. As much as he would initiate contact as a runner, he was too laid back as a pass protector.
2015 NFL Draft profile: What I see in Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA - Bob Sturm, DMN
The Sturminator's bulging portfolio of prospect reviews is stretched a bit further as he goes to the tape to profile the UCLA signal-caller. Here's Bob's conclusion:
Like I said, he is a QB with a NFL arm and a NFL body in a draft without great QB depth. He will get a chance to play at the next level and there is a point where I would be enticed to take a shot that my coaching staff can bring him along. But, there are QBs who don’t throw interceptions because they can never pull the trigger. I fear Hundley might be that type of guy who holds, holds, holds, and then is sacked. Many of his passes were behind the line of scrimmage and although he made some massive throws and won a ton of games, I definitely see what the complaints are all about. Can pocket instincts and presence be developed after college? I am positive someone is going to use a 3rd or a 4th to find out.
Possible Pick: Virginia’s Eli Harold May Fit Best In Cowboys’ 4-3 Scheme - David Helman, The Mothership
Tiny Jim continues the draft series over at The Mothership, focusing his magnifying glass on my emerging favorite second rounder. The question, of course, is whether or net he'll fall that far. Helman doesn't think so:
Where He’s Projected: Harold is one of the top names in the handful of "tweeners" that intrigue draftniks every single spring. Whether he plays in a 3-4 or a 4-3, his athleticism has him projected to go in the first 40 picks – either the late first or early second round. He’s not as highly-regarded as fellow tweeners Vic Beasley and Bud Dupree. It’s a decent bet he’ll be there when Dallas picks at No. 27, but no guarantee. How He Helps the Cowboys: It’s always a matter of debate with tweeners, but there are plenty of draft evaluators who think Harold plays his best with his hand on the ground. He’ll undoubtedly need some time to grow and develop, but he’d be another young, athletic pass rusher to add to the rotation along with DeMarcus Lawrence. That could be crucial, given that Greg Hardy and Jeremy Mincey aren’t under contract past 2015.
Some nice global looks at the draft, with a little Cowboys flavor:
Five To Fit: DE Is Still A Cowboys Draft Need Despite Hardy Signing - David Helman, The Mothership
Helman outlines a handful of defensive end candidates the Cowboys could add to their roster. Since we all know the familiar names by now, I'll cite the least-known candidate:
Chuka Ndulue, Oklahoma – Ndulue might not even hear his name called during the draft, but he’s a Dallas native and the Cowboys are sure to have an eye on him. He’s built at a stocky 288 pounds, and he managed 12 sacks during his Sooner career. The Cowboys have two seventh-round picks and could take a late flyer on him.
10 players the Cowboys might be willing to trade up for in the first round - Jon Machota, DMN
Machota says that the Cowboys could move up in the first round of the draft, but that it wold have to be for a player they have highly-rated. Which guys might fit the bill? Here's a couple of spoonfuls:
Bud Dupree, DE, Kentucky. Before the scouting combine, several mock drafts had projected Dupree to the Cowboys at 27. But Dupree’s stock has gone up over the last couple months and it seems unlikely that he’d fall outside the top 25.
Marcus Peters, CB, Washington. This is a similar scenario as Waynes only Peters is likely to go a little later because of character concerns from his time at Washington. Although he has all of the measurables scouts desire, Peters was dismissed from the team after problems with the coaching staff.
What the Dallas Cowboys can expect in the second round - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer's retrospective looks at the players taken with the picks Dallas has in this year's draft stops at pick #60. This spot in the draft runs hot and cold; to wit:
2012 -- Kelechi Osemele, G, Iowa State (Baltimore Ravens): He has started every game he has played since being drafted, winning a Super Bowl his rookie season. He missed nine games in 2013 because of back surgery but is a strong player and should be an in-demand free agent if the Ravens don't keep him after this season.
2011 -- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (Houston Texans): He has yet to start a game or record an interception in his career. He was cut by the Texans prior to last season but spent last season with the Tennessee Titans.
NFL Draft Wish List, Part 1 - Bill Barnwell, Grantland.Com
Barnwell takes a look at the biggest need(s) remaining on each team’s roster and how likely it is to find a solution to that spot in the upcoming draft. Here's what he has to say about our Beloved 'Boys:
Dallas Cowboys Biggest Need: Defensive line
Other Needs: CB, S, RB
As tempting as it might be for the Cowboys to replace DeMarco Murray with one of the draft’s top running backs, one of the benefits of spending three first-round picks on offensive linemen was supposed to be that the Cowboys could plug any ol’ running back into their backfield and succeed. Dallas should draft a running back to compete with Darren McFadden & Co., but it would be healthier to wait for somebody like Indiana’s Tevin Coleman or Miami’s Duke Johnson in the second or third round. Instead, the Cowboys should try to give Rod Marinelli something to work with up front. While Marinelli was able to get competency out of retreads like Jeremy Mincey and George Selvie last year, the Dallas defensive line desperately needs an infusion of young talent. 2014 second-rounder Demarcus Lawrence will be back after missing most of his rookie season with a broken foot, but the Cowboys could sorely use an interior pass-rusher to prevent opposing quarterbacks from stepping up in the pocket, especially with Henry Melton having left for Tampa Bay in free agency. If they do go after a running back or a defensive back in Round 1, Ohio State’s Mike Bennett would be a very viable option at 60.
And we end with this gem:
Inside Slant: Innovating the NFL schedule - Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
A study of the NFL schedule arrived at a startling discovery: the NFL's schedule formula does not, as had previously been assumed, correct for such disparities as teams playing against rested opponents or having to go on the road for four out of five games. In short, the schedule puts some teams at a distinct competitive disadvantage. If you're looking for the reason for this inequity, look no further than TV ratings and the money they generate:
In a statement provided to ESPN.com, league spokesman Greg Aiello said the formula "is similar to what the NFL uses but differs in that it focuses only on fairness." Aiello added: "It does not, for example, take into consideration television ratings and other matters. We have always said that we look for the right balance between competitive issues and other considerations such as television. The idea of creating schedules that are supposedly 'fair' to all teams but don't give consideration to television ramifications and other matters, such as stadium conflicts, is unrealistic."
The good news is that the study also found no evidence of any "favored-team" conspiracies. So, John Mara can't petition Roger Goodell to make the Cowboys play fourteen road games in 2015.